Guest poem submitted by Amulya Gopalakrishnan:
(Poem #1048) Black Rook in Rainy Weather
On the stiff twig up there Hunches a wet black rook Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain- I do not expect a miracle Or an accident To set the sight on fire In my eye, nor seek Any more in the desultory weather some design, But let spotted leaves fall as they fall Without ceremony, or portent. Although, I admit, I desire, Occasionally, some backtalk From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain: A certain minor light may still Lean incandescent Out of kitchen table or chair As if a celestial burning took Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then -- Thus hallowing an interval Otherwise inconsequent By bestowing largesse, honor One might say love. At any rate, I now walk Wary (for it could happen Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical Yet politic, ignorant Of whatever angel any choose to flare Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook Ordering its black feathers can so shine As to seize my senses, haul My eyelids up, and grant A brief respite from fear Of total neutrality. With luck, Trekking stubborn through this season Of fatigue, I shall Patch together a content Of sorts. Miracles occur. If you care to call those spasmodic Tricks of radiance Miracles. The wait's begun again, The long wait for the angel, For that rare, random descent.
Truly miraculous. A poem about revelation that breaks like light, and yet it is tense with effort. It is not just simple awe at the shimmering that suns out from a bird's wings; it is a labored, longed-for epiphany. This poem enacts the conflict I find fascinating about Sylvia Plath -- she's the same person who in the 'Soliloquy of a Solipsist' knows that the world is what she gifts herself, she possesses the capacity to endow it with grace or terror, even oblivion, with the blink of her eyelid. But simultaneously, there's always the compulsion to be overwhelmed, to abandon herself to fantasy. Here too, she shies away from directly singing her vision. And yet, in spite of (and perhaps because of) all the studied casualness ('spasmodic tricks of radiance', 'one might say love') she manages to convey a sense of whimsical magic. That is the astonishment of the poem. For me anyway. I'm not equipped to analyze the structure or rhyme scheme, but this one looks pretty corseted. Sylvia Plath, like other confessional poets is often associated with a raw, visceral intensity -- which is odd considering so much of her poetry has this kind of achieved poise and formal perfection. (I'm skipping all the who-is-sylvia-what-is-she details, because it's been done to death.) Amulya. [Minstrels Links] Sylvia Plath: Poem #53, Winter landscape, with rocks Poem #129, Ariel Poem #366, Child Poem #404, Daddy Poem #612, Love Letter Poem #678, Mirror Poem #881, The Moon and the Yew-tree Poem #1048, Black Rook in Rainy Weather Crows, rooks, blackbirds and ravens: Poem #35, The Windhover -- Gerard Manley Hopkins Poem #85, The Raven -- Edgar Allan Poe Poem #137, The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven -- Guy Wetmore Carryl Poem #620, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird -- Wallace Stevens Poem #621, Thirteen Blackbirds Looking at a Man -- R. S. Thomas Poem #1048, Black Rook in Rainy Weather -- Sylvia Plath